The gigantic black and green truck with BIG PIG! written on the driver’s side door in bright, arcing blood red letters with a jagged lightning bolt for an exclamation point barreled down the narrow, winding mountain road like a runaway boulder. Despite the thick ice and snow lying more than two feet deep, the truck managed to keep to the road, thanks to the numerous ice studs that protruded from the tires at the touch of a button on the dashboard. The owner and driver of Big Pig sat behind the mahogany steering wheel, golden eyes blazing with excitement as he expertly maneuvered his vehicle, keeping it firmly in the center of the road.
The main complication at the moment was not the ice and snow on the road, although they certain did not help. It was the three eight wheeled German made Blizzard class armored combat vehicles chasing Big Pig. The lead vehicle came equipped with a twin .50 caliber machine gun mounted on the roof. This weapon was being fired at the truck. Thankfully the gunner had more enthusiasm than skill in using the weapon as most of the bullets went wild. And those that did hit Big Pig were blunted by the truck’s own armor. Thankfully, the narrowness of the road prevented the vehicles from following in anything other than single file and so they weren’t able to use their own weapons. But pretty soon somebody would get the bright idea to lob a grenade or use a missile launcher and then things were going to get interesting.
Inside the cab of the truck, the driver was not only busy steering but dealing with his two passengers, both of whom had definitely not expected to be shot at by a small force of mercenaries and let the driver know so in most descriptive and for one of them, highly obscene language. But then again, considering that the driver was Dillon and his passengers were Reynard Hansen and Wyatt Hyatt, both of whom had been on several adventures with Dillon in the past, they shouldn’t have been surprised at all.
“I don’t wanna die!” Reynard howled, clutching the dashboard as if drawing hope and strength from it. “And especially not on Christmas Eve! Dammit, Dillon!”
“You’re being awfully babyish about this,” Dillon replied in a calm voice. “One would think you’d never been shot at before.” He never took his eyes off the road, following the twisty trail with easy, smooth manipulation of the wheel.
“Not on Christmas Eve!”
The third man in the cab adjusted his square framed Grier glasses on his bearded face and said in a voice pitched somewhere between Reynard’s hysterical shrieking and Dillon’s near inhuman calm. “Don’t distract him, Reynard! If we go off the road-“
“Go off the road? Go off the road where?” Reynard howled back.
Reynard did have a point. Sheer vertical gray cliffs were on both sides of the hideously twisty road. There was no danger of going off the road but there also was no chance of getting up enough speed to outrun the vehicles behind them. A fresh barrage of .50 slugs beat a lively tune on the rear of Big Pig.
“Come take a quick trip to Alaska you said! In and out you said! To visit an old friend you said!”
Dillon yanked at the wheel, slammed through gears as he took a sharp right turn, the tires throwing up arcing plumes of snow fifteen feet high into the air. It showered down on the gunner of the lead Blizzard, blinding him. “You act like I planned on this,” he grunted as Reynard and Wyatt slid into him. “And didn’t I tell you two to put on your seat belts? Do it now!”
“Why? To hold us in place so the bullets won’t miss?” Reynard snapped back. But he did as he was told.
A mournful wailing emerged from the rear of the cab. Wyatt turned his head. “Aw. The poor little guy. Dillon, can’t I take him out and-“
“No! last thing we need is him jumping around up here! He’s better off where he is!” Dillon’s gloved hands blurred as he turned the wheel to navigate a tight left turn, again throwing up plumes of snow to further disorient their pursuers, forcing them to slow up some.
“I’d be better off back there with him!” Reynard grumbled.
“I’d be better off with you back there too, you sissy,” Dillon muttered. The sounds of the .50 caliber bullets hitting the back of Big Pig increased in volume and rapidity. “We’ve got to come up with something quick to get ‘em off our tail.”
“Grenades?” Wyatt said hopefully. “Surely you have some in here?”
“Sure I do. But-“ Dillon broke off as he saw something ahead of them. His face brightened as his familiar Cheshire Cat grin spread wide. “Ah HA! Boys, we got our out!” He pointed.
Wyatt and Reynard looked at where he was pointing and the only thing they could see was the road widening as the pass abruptly ended. The road straightened out as it continued on down to a frozen lake.
“Are you crazy?” Reynard yelped. “We can’t take this beast on a frozen lake! We’ll fall in!”
“Look! Look! There’s a road across the ice! That means it’s used regularly for transport on a daily basis. It’ll hold long enough for me to get our pals back there off our asses. Wyatt, slide on over here!”
There was much grunting and muttering as Wyatt unbelted himself and climbed over Reynard. Considering that Wyatt was built like a defensive tackle while Reynard was slender and lighter it was a maneuver not achieved without much profanity unleashed by Reynard. Dillon merely climbed over the back of the driver’s seat and Wyatt slid in. The truck slowed down slightly as the transfer was made. Wyatt tromped on the gas and Big Pig lurched forward again.
“Floor it until you hit the ice road then slow ‘er down to around forty or fifty, hear?” Dillon said as he opened a weapons locker in the rear. In response to the pitiful whining coming from his left, he turned briefly and whispered, “It’ll be okay, boy. I promise. We’ll be rid of them soon. There’s a brave boy.” Dillon turned back to the weapons locker and took out a pair of grenades which he thrust into the pockets of his bronze colored shearling jacket. “Wyatt, you take it easy on the ice road but when I yell at you to punch it, you go, son and I do mean go! You got it?”
“I got it, I got it!” Wyatt’s grin was that of a big kid having the time of his life. “Can I honk the horn?”
Reynard goggled at Wyatt in total astonishment. “You really think this thing can go across that frozen lake?”
“Sure. Don’t you ever watch ‘Ice Road Truckers’? Hey, Dillon, what about the horn?”
Dillon didn’t answer. He was too busy climbing out of hatch in the roof he’d opened. Only his kicking legs were visible to Reynard, who turned around in his seat to see what Dillon was doing. “Hey! Where the hell you goin’?” Reynard shrieked. Dillon didn’t answer. He was too busy clambering onto the roof. He left the hatch open and hung onto the edge as he braced against the howling wind battering at his back.
He could see the three armored vehicles right behind Big Pig, throwing up quite the wake of ice and snow themselves as they came after Big Pig. It looked to Dillon as if the gunner of the lead vehicle were reloading his guns. It wasn’t easy as the vehicle weaved from side to side. The driver wasn’t used to these conditions or their vehicles didn’t have ice studs on the tires. Which was just sloppy and careless on their part. Dillon smiled grimly. If there were two things that would kill you faster than a bullet in this business it was sloppiness and panic. His unseen pursers had supplied one and Dillon was about to provide the other.
“This is crazy! We’re gonna crash through the ice and die!” Reynard howled. He pounded on Wyatt’s muscular right arm. “Look, let’s stop and take our chances with those jimokes! We can shoot it out with ‘em!”
“I suggest you brace yourself,” Wyatt replied with a healthy chuckle as he slammed his foot down on the gas. Big Pig leaped forward like a bee stung greyhound, vaulting the few feet separating solid ground from solid ice, landing on the frozen lake with a hideously loud and terrifying cracking of ice. The huge wheels spun briefly until the ice studs dug in and caught traction. Big Pig surged onto the ice road across the lake, gaining ground on the pursuing enemy.
The impact flipped Dillon off of the roof and into the air where he let loose with a weird yodeling yell as he pin wheeled wildly to land with bone jangling impact in Big Pig’s dump bed. He took about ten seconds to shout out some interjections then scrambled to his knees and take stock of their situation.
They were on the ice road, doing about fifty and the three Blizzards were just coming onto the ice road themselves. “Gotta give it to them,” Dillon thought. “Those guys are determined.” He reached inside his right jacket pocket and pulled out a grenade. He shouted as loud as he could, “Wyatt! Slow down some!”
Inside the cab of Big Pig, Wyatt yelled, “What did he say? What did he say?”
The near petrified with fear Reynard yelled back; “Slow down! Slow down!”
Indeed, due to Big Pig’s speed, the ice studs were losing their firm grip on the ice and slowly, the huge truck was sliding to one side, to the right as the rear was lighter and so the ice studs weren’t able to keep their traction.
Dillon yanked the pin on the grenades with his thumbs and flung them out. He wasn’t aiming for anything in particular. As long as it hit the ice it was good.
The grenade arced over the lead Blizzard. The gunner opened up with his twin .50 calibers again and Dillon ducked for cover as a vertical storm of bullets slammed into the dump bed which thankfully was also armored. Sparks showered around him from the impact of the bullets against the armor. Dillon snarled in anger and from his shoulder holster yanked out his Jericho 941 and fired back. He knew his bullets couldn’t penetrate the armored hide of the Blizzard but it made him feel better to shoot back and not just slide around in the dump bed while they took shots at his truck.
Wyatt and Reynard were engaged in a furious slap fight inside the cab of Big Pig for control of the steering wheel as the truck continued its slow but determined slide, turning completely around in a 180 degree spin so that the front of Big Pig was now facing the Blizzard.
“Leggo the wheel, Rey!”
“No! You don’t know what you’re doin’!”
“Stop! Dillon told me I could drive!”
“Dillon ain’t here!”
“Unhand that wheel!”
The grenades exploded on the surface of the ice lake.
TO BE CONTINUED…